Not so long ago I was driving with my young adult sons, and we were talking about something in the news that had to do with male genitals. I used the word "cock" without thinking to refer to the part of the male anatomy in question. Okay - maybe not not very cultured - but it is what I am comfortable calling the penis - so it just flew out of my mouth. My oldest son - then about 20 said "Mom, please do not use the word COCK!" He was half laughing and half visibly squirming. As a sex and fertility educator/coach and outrageous memoir writer - I am kind of used to having this reaction on my sons (two very well adjusted and successful young men). So I laughed right back.
"What word would you have me use? Penis? Lingam? Schlong? Dick? Johnson? Junk? Wand of Light? Penis is so clinical. Do you use the word Penis to describe your gentials?"
My youngest, then about 16, is now laughing so hard in the back seat that he can't breathe - but he chimes in anyway. "I guess it's just funny to hear our mother say the word cock!"
I look at the oldest - I am relentless. "Come on - do you want me to use 'Penis'? Would that make you more comfortable? Really - what do you call IT?"
Oldest son look at me with a wry grin and responds "Wee-Wee".
I almost wet my pants, we all laughed so hard. But, seriously - what is it with our genitals? We have so many names for this important place in our bodies (both male and female) but few of us have a word that we are comfortable using to describe them. It's as it we have generic genitals.
Many of my female sexuality coaching clients (who are usually somewhere between 30 and 70 years old with their average age coming in at 50) uniformly to date - can't come up with a word that they are comfortable using to refer to their own genitals with me. It is a question I always ask as I want to refer to their "lady bits" using language that they are comfortable with. The conversation goes like this - "So what do you call your own genitals? Do you have a word that you are comfortable using when talking about your own genitals or female parts?"
My question is always met with silence and stunningly similar answers. The response is usually something like this. "Wow. I never thought about it before. I don't have a word. I never name my parts".
So, I usually throw out possible names - much like I did with my sons. "What about vulva, vagina, yoni, pussy or even cunt? Do any of these words feel comfortable to you?"
The response is usually "No" and then followed by "Let me think about it - research the options and I will get back to you next week!".
Think about this. Not one of my female sexuality coaching clients have a word that they are comfortable using to describe, refer to, or name their genitals. My clients are generally very healthy, bright, curious and smart women who are looking to expand on their sexuality in many different ways. Yet, it is not shocking to me that they have trouble with this exercise.
The vagina and female desire is still a buried part of our society. Men are a little ahead of the game here as male sexuality, desire, and even their genitals are more external in nature. Many women still have no idea what their genitals really look like - and how they look in comparison with other women's genitals. As a result -many women have created stories about their own genitals being deformed in some way.
I am so excited that their is a new book out called "Heart of The Flower" by Andrew Barnes and Yvonne Lumsden. From their website:
"The book of yonis is an unflinching exploration of the beautiful diversity of women's genitals, free of judgement, shame and embarrassment
Fifty everyday women have posed for up-close and personal photographs that show their genitals from many different and rarely seen angles. Each woman writes candidly with wit, wisdom, passion, even despair, about her relationship with her yoni.
The book brings into light the ins and outs of the female sexual anatomy, and demystifies and challenges the way society views women's genitals and sexuality.
Heart of the Flower is designed to normalise and celebrate diversity at a time when labial reconstructions have reached an all-time high and women's body image is at an all-time low."
I wish that "Heart of the Flower" was able to get better publicity, as I think it would be a very healing and helpful book to so many women.
We only have one word for brain, heart, stomach, and kidneys. Why so many words for our genitals and yet not one that most people (male or female) are comfortable with?
If we cannot name our sexy parts with ease - how comfortable can we really be with this most important part of our bodies and our lives. I encourage you to think about this - and if you don't have a name that you are comfortable for your genitals - find one! I just heard a very famous Taoist Master call our sexuality the "Commander in Chief" of our bodies. Shouldn't we be able to name it? What do you think? Bring it on!